Chances are that your dog is happy. However, do they ever get a little ... too happy? If your dog is one of those individuals that frequently humps toys, there's no need to be concerned. This is a natural and typically non-sexual behavior that many dogs exhibit. However, your dog could be trying to tell you something through this act. Learn more about what this humping behavior could mean and how you can successfully discourage it.
Why is My Dog Humping Toys?
Canine humping and mounting are perfectly normal dog behaviors. Yet contrary to popular belief, they are rarely associated with sexual feelings. Dogs can hump as a response to several different emotions. They might act this way because they're nervous, excited, or anxious, and in some cases, a physical cause could be the root. Unfortunately, some dogs simply hump toys out of habit. Both male and female dogs can exhibit humping for any of these reasons, regardless of whether they are intact or altered.
Advice to Stop Canine Humping or Mounting
Although this is a natural canine response, humping could indicate that your pet is experiencing a medical or behavioral problem. It's important to note that you should not reprimand humping behaviors. Instead, there are a few stepwise measures pet owners should take to combat it.
1. Rule Out a Medical Problem as the Cause of Humping
First, it's important to rule out any type of physical cause. Dogs can hump because they have a urinary tract infection, skin allergy, prostate issue, urinary incontinence, or other medical condition. Schedule a visit with your veterinarian to rule out any physical ailment as the cause of humping before addressing it with behavioral solutions.
Additionally, both intact male and female dogs are more likely to mount as a response to hormones. Humping, in this case, might be sexual in nature. Spaying or neutering your pet will halt hormone production and can reduce these behaviors. Be sure to speak to your vet about the right time to alter your pet.
2. Address Anxiety or Tension
If there's no medical reason for your dog's humping, you can proceed to evaluate emotional causes. Pay close attention to whether a certain scenario, such as the arrival of a new or favorite guest in your home, sends your dog into a tizzy resulting in humping toys or other objects. If that's the case, you can try to minimize excitement or stress around the situation or come prepared with distraction methods that redirect the behavior.
Keep your dog well-exercised and mentally busy to reduce possible pent-up tension. You can consult with a behaviorist to discuss tailored methods for your pet. However, if your dog is simply stressed all the time, you may want to consider anti-anxiety medications or other calming solutions, such as pheromone sprays.
3. Use Distraction Methods
A highly recommended solution to address humping habits is to distract your pet when they exhibit this behavior. Any time your dog begins to hump, redirect them. Use a command they know well to distract them, then reward them with a tasty treat. In this way, you're not rewarding the humping behavior, but instead, you are rewarding their response to the command. You can then guide them away from their mounting target to continue training commands, play a game, or go for a walk.
4. Consider Humping Aids
Should no other solutions resolve the issue, you could consider giving your dog a designated humping toy. Amber Drake, an experienced canine behaviorist, states, "If distraction techniques don't work and there's no underlying medical issue causing the behavior, providing a dog with some sort of toy to hump is recommended."
Although there are devices marketed specifically for this purpose, any stuffed animal will do. Try to offer them the same toy every time to reinforce that it's OK for your dog to use this toy and only this one as an outlet for humping behaviors. Considering dogs are creatures of habit, it's important to stick to a schedule when you offer them "private time." Allowing them to do so may help discourage them from displaying humping behavior outside of these designated windows.
Curb Humping With a Plan
Ultimately, humping behaviors are more upsetting to pet owners than the pets themselves. The best way to combat canine humping is to rule out treatable causes, then strategically develop a plan. Be sure to approach the situation with compassion and avoid scolding your pet when they hump. Seek help from a canine behaviorist for personalized guidance if needed.